Cooking school or eating school?
05.26.2015 - 05.26.2015 75 °F
Breakfast was served in the kitchen between 9 and 10 am. I will try and get some photos posted of the kitchen if I can figure out how to do so, and if I get the time. As you will see, they are keeping us very busy. Breakfast consisted of whatever type of coffee or tea you wanted, juices, croissants, melon, pineapple, pastries, all beautifully displayed on the huge central island in the kitchen.
After breakfast, we had a half hour break before the vans took us to the ancient town of Arpino, approximately an hour drive. Eventually we arrived at an olive oil farm and winery. We were greeted by Vincenzo, who has succeeded to the olive oil and winery operations which were begun by his great grandfather more than a hundred years ago. He spoke at length about his olive trees and the process to produce the finest extra virgin olive oil. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned, apart from the machines and temperatures utilized, is not to buy extra virgin olive oil in PLASTIC bottles from Costco...or anywhere for that matter. The plastic does bad things to the olive oil. After a tour of the olive oil producing facility, we were transported to the winery where Vincenzo lives. We were greeted by his mother. We had a virgin olive oil tasting and were then escorted into a room where tables had been set up and a feast prepared by his mother. There was wonderful focaccia, zucchini torte, Cannellini beans in broth, house made Prosciutto, Asiago cheese made by a neighboring farmer, eggplant, bruschetta and other delicacies...all wonderful. Carafes of his Merlot/Montepulciano blend were served. This was all capped by an amazing Crostata for dessert. A wonderful overall experience.
We were next transported to the Ancient Torre de Ciceroni (Tower of Cicero) which is believed to have been built in 800 BC. The Tower of Cicero is a Roman-medieval building in the middle of Civitavecchia Arpino, so named for the belief that the Roman ruins of the Acropolis were the remains of the residence of Cicero, who was born in this town of Ciociaro. The Acropolis of Civitavecchia, in addition to the tower, housed several other artifacts of Roman origin, as well as a round arch, pre-Roman, which is the door of the village itself. The tower sits high atop a mountain with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
Our next stop will explain the title of this post. We were taken to what was described by our guides as one of the best gelato stores in all of Italy. While we had not yet received any cooking instruction, the pounds were piling up. The gelato was wonderful and we were taken back to CG where we had all of a half hour to relax before our first cooking class would begin.
Chef Dyana is a young woman who lives in the village and it is not entirely clear what training she has had, but she mentions her mother and grandmother a lot...and she knows her stuff, and speaks English quite well. The first night's lesson is Antipasti, and we arrive in the beautiful kitchen where we each have a station and are presented with a cookbook of the week's recipes along with Casa Gregorio embroidered aprons to take home. I express my disappointment (feigned) that my name is not embroidered on the apron. Our cooking aprons are different...they are white and they will be cleaned before each class is held.
As Peter, our host for the week, opened many bottles of wine for us to try as we were cooking, we proceeded to make frittata di spaghetti, fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers), eggplant parmesan, roasted peppers and bruschetta, (which Dyana sternly reminded us that it is pronounced "brew-sket-a)...and then, after we prepared all of the ingredients, we cooked and ate it all...and then went to bed...exhausted!